So this past Saturday, myself and several of my friends went to do the Men’s Health Urbanathlon! Obviously we knew right off the bat this wasn’t going to be a Spartan or CMC, but it was going to be a fun run. AND it was, there was A LOT of running, the course was 10 miles with 10 obstacles, nothing crazy. We started out and ran for about a mile then went over the orange traffic barriers, ok no problem, over under fencing and then the traffic barriers.
The course was beautiful, when we got there it was FREEZING, but it warmed up nicely in the end. Irregardless I went with shorts, calf sleeves and skins, I was covered but there was still enough ventilation. The running course was beautiful, we ran in Flushing Meadows Park where they had the 1969 World’s Fair, obviously I don’t remember any of it as I was only 0 years old! LOL! The park still has many of the monuments/statues from when it was there. It was pretty cool. I hadn’t been back there since I was 10 yrs old or something like that we would go with the YMCA on Sunday trips to a museum there I believe. So it was a little trip down memory lane in a way for me, I remembered some of the stuff and some of it I was fascinated by–feeling like a tourist in the city I have lived in for almost all my life.
As we ran towards the second obstacle there were police barricades, look it’s the Urbanathlon–go with it! Up and over, no problem, just like we did in The Bronx in the 80’s, lol. More running, the scenery was pretty, we ran along a lake and it was very nice. The field had spread out and there was a lot of room to move. At the beginning there was a little bit of a backlog, but it soon opened up nicely and we had a lot of space. The obstacles were still a little crowded but it seemed to move along fine.
The third obstacle–MY NEMESIS, the monkey bars…and parallel bars, what am I Kurt Thomas? Got about 4 rungs and fell off, went back and tried again, got across 4 rungs, at this point I walked thru and tried the parallel bars. I hadn’t been on parallel bars since elementary school when I was but a quarter the size I am now and I could move this mass which is my body! As I flung my body across, my left arm slipped–BOOM right down on my left bicep, it still hurts today! Maybe next year monkey bars and parallel bars, maybe next year…
As we continued to run back up the opposite side of the lake we came back to the overpass we ran thru and there was another over under thru, 5 foot walls and under the walls, back to running again. The next obstacles were jumps over yellow poles, think of a group fitness class with the rubber bands around your feet, and you jump over something. There were crates and these little yellow poles to get over.
The next obstacle we came to was Arthur Ashe Stadium, up the stairs, and around half of the stadium, and then back down the stairs. It was here that I saw Mel and Karen running thru, whew I was in front of someone! LOL, they both started after us so no big victory. There stairs were very long it seemed like, especially after we had already run 7 miles at this point. There were some very enthusiastic people cheering just outside the stadium. You would have thought it was a lot of people, but there were three of them–but they were LOUD!
As we left the stadium another loop around the park and the fountain and then back towards Citifield where I could smell the finish line! As I rounded the corner, I could see the entire festival going on, and there were people who finished who cheered up as we ran through, tried to speed up but was getting tired at this point. The next obstacle was the tire carry over the Jersey barricades, I don’t know what the hell Jersey Barricades are, all they were were elevated tracks which we walked over with a tire over our neck.
Next back into Citifield where we would run up and down those damn stairs. I remember this from Spartan, which seemed much more brutal, but it was fun running up and down the stairs and thru the stadium, funny this was the second time I’ve been thru the Mets locker room. It was really uninspiring, no wonder those guys suck…(oooohhhhh). We then got to run along the foul lines and the warning track and back out for the last couple of obstacles.
As we ran back thru the parking lot, we had the taxi cab hood slide, which was cute, just slide across the hood. It was funny to see people trying to get across trying to slide on their bare skin–OUCH! Then there was the cargo net climb over the school bus and of course what’s a good obstacle course without a 10′ wall. I got to it and was tired and, I went back and took a running jump and tried pulling myself over. There were guys there to help get you over, think ‘Everest’ at Tough Mudder, but not as difficult, the one guy grabs my arm and say pull yourself over and I look at him and say ‘I AM pulling myself over,’ but I wasn’t going anywhere! Then like an angel I feel some grab my feet and give a little push which is what I needed! FINISHED!
To sum it up, a fun race, good times with some very nice people. Although at the races I go to, we start out as a group and everyone runs their own race. In any group it will always be tough to find people who are the exact same fitness level that I am, but the win is finishing. Although I am starting to get more competitive…The next big challenge Paris Marathon, only 158 more days to train…STAY TUNED!
OK, so I got back on the ball since last Friday and really hitting it and eating clean. I am always amazed what I can do when I buckle down; lost 9lbs this week–WTF! I credit it to eating clean and WERK at the gym!
I got my ass handed to me tonight when I took back to back classes with Caitlin, holy shit she is tough. I had forgotten how intense her classes are, and fun. I did so many burpees and push ups it was just ridiculous. I am running everyday day, put in 10 miles this week, not much but a good start. I want to start running on the Greenway on the west side, any takers out there?
I bought a slow cooker a couple of weeks ago, thank to my friend Melissa she motivated me to start cooking instead of buying all the time. I mean I do buy good stuff which can get expensive, but it so nice to make a meal which will last for several days and keep me out of the Aspen Market. You should subscribe to her blog, (http://steakssquatsandsundresses.wordpress.com/), really good stuff and great workout advice. She’s really got her crap together!
Busy weekend ahead, I have the row-a-thon in Monroe, CT tomorrow. We are rowing 50,000m (31 miles for the uninformed). I was practicing a little, rowed 3000m in 27 minutes–WHICH SUCKS! It’s 10 person team so we’ll make it thru, or it’ll kill us! LOL
Lemond is doing a new re-launch of his Lemond Bikes after separating with Trek. They’ve been doing a social media BLITZ, watching and reading this brings back so many memories. After Major Taylor,I would say Greg Lemond is the reason why cycling became so popular in the 19080′, this is long before Lance who also did a lot for the sport.
I so remember this tour, the team held him back and kept telling him Hinault was right behind, in fact when he was the leader on the road. Really pisses me off even now!
Here’s a great re-cap of the race held this past weekend. I would have went but was committed to another race which in turn was cancelled due to the government shutdown. Coupled with I was going to run Tough Mudder on Sunday, it would have been a TOUGHER weekend!
Well, it’s almost 2 months since I returned from my cruise, but here’s the second half of my trip. I was trying to find the itinerary as I sit here in my office. It’s a little slow today and quite frankly I would rather be at the gym if not for this 6:30PM appointment. As I found the itinerary I realized the first half of the trip was much more eventful! LOL!
The second half of the trip was actually the last 1/3 of the trip had we boarded in Barcelona, but we didn’t so let me stop dwelling on it. The problems of the bourgeois right? The second part of our trip began in Athens, we were docked there for tow days. People were getting off and new people were getting on the ship. The good news for us was the second half of the cruise wasn’t that full so we upgraded our cabin to a SUITE–yeah buddy we were big pimpin!
Usually when we go on a cruise we just get the cheapest thing, but since we were going to be on the ship for so long we figured might as well treat ourselves. The cabins was spacious, almost like a one bedroom apartment, I think these cabins normally would go for about $8000 bucks had we stayed the entire 22 days, we got the entire trip for less than half of that. It was really nice, big balcony, big room; I thought our first room was adequate, but after being in this one, I would never want to go back!
So we were supposed to meet Michael’s father and Kevin in Athens, they flew in the same day we got into port, and stayed in Athens overnight as the would board the next day. We attempted to meet up with them, but for reasons I won’t get into we didn’t end up meeting up, so we went to the Acropolis Museum and the Acropolis. This had to be one of the most spectacular sites I have ever seen. It is truly a wonder. When you learn about the history and how Lord Elgin DEFACED and desecrated the Acropolis it saddens me. Something this bold and beautiful which obviously could be appreciated by anyone who saw hence it’s longevity. It was at first a Pagan temple, then a Mosque, amongst other things. The acropolis sits atop a hill which overlooks seemingly ALL of modern day Athens, made you believe that you must be a God if you were to live up here. Currently there is a lot of construction going on there to shore up what is left of the structure and to preserve it.
We first went to the Acropolis museum, which was actually a microcosm of the actual Acropolis. Each panel on the facade of the building had a carving all depictions of various events and Gods and stuff like that. It was fascinating. The original piece was there if it was available and a description of what was carved on the panel. This was the high point of the museum, all in side there were various artifacts from the building. There was even a copy of the temple of Athena (which now resides in the British Museum) there. Totally amazing and the views form up there, oh man too spectacular to describe!
The hike up to the top wasn’t bad, we got there late and I definitely wanted to go even though it was a long day and I would just as well go back on the ship and get rested up, but how often will I be in Athens? LOL. The hike up was so worth it breathtaking views of everywhere, it really left me speechless and emotional as I had read about this and knew someday I would get to Athens, I was hoping it would have been with someone I loved and cared for–it wasn’t it was with Michael, LOL! Anyway he had been here before and was a great guide, I showed him how to take Panoramic shots with his iPhone and he was like a kid in a candy store taking Panoramic shots of everything. They came out pretty well too!
Afterwards, we hiked back down the other side and saw one of the arenas which was on the base of the hill. Athens is a little dingy–at least the area where we were. Seems like the economic downturn hit Greece hard, when we walked around the main streets, there were so many shops which had been boarded up. A sad state of affairs, I’m sure they realize if they get off the Euro and go back to Greek currency half the battles would be solved but they would also not be apart of the EU anymore, still very sad to see. BTW, there are a lot of strip joint in Athens–what does that say?
The next day we went to Crete and honestly I don’t even remember what the hell we did there. I think we walked around, it probably was very anti-climactic as I don’t even have any pictures from there!
We then had a day at sea, I had an interesting experience on board. When we were in Athens, and the new people boarded there was this young lady whom I noticed. She was blonde and quite stunning I thought. We exchanged glances from time to time and then when we had the emergency drill I noticed she was at the same drill point as we were. Me being shy I didn’t say anything to her. The day after Crete we had a day at sea and as I sat around the pool I see here again. This time she was wearing a sequined purple bathing suit top, which of course I noticed. We sat on the pool deck across from each other soaking our legs in the water. As I sat there I thought she was looking at me and I know I was looking at her, since we were both wearing mirrored sunglasses who could tell!
After about an hour, I got up and walked over to the rail, just looking over the side of the ship at the water. Five minutes later she walks over and stands about 5′ away from me. I thought to myself ‘gee that’s strange,’ I stood there for a few minutes wanting to say something but couldn’t get up the courage to say anything, so I walked away and sat on my beach chair. A couple of minutes later she comes and sits on the beach chair NEXT TO ME–WTF! I’m trying to psych myself up to say something, in the back of my mind I am saying if I called this wrong then I have to bump into this girl the next 11 days and it’ll always be awkward…to make a long story short, I didn’t say or do anything and she left. Later I am telling Michael what happened and he is telling me that he was watching the entire thing, because it seemed like everywhere I went she followed me for a little while. He thought we were talking to one another when we were on the beach chairs. Michael was telling me how he couldn’t believe I didn’t speak to her, as he put it ‘she was practically having sex with you…’ I couldn’t live this down the entire rest of the time on the cruise. More on this later, there is a happy ending.
After our day at sea, we docked in Ashdod, Israel, this was an alternate port as the political unrest in Alexandria the cruise line changed the itinerary. I wasn’t too disappointed as I had been to Egypt already for The Cross Egypt Challenge, I had already seen all the goodies there, but Michael had never been. I wanted to go to the Holocaust Museum, which there was a tour for. We bought tickets, followed all the instructions given to us and then by the time they let us off the ship our bus had left without us! WTF! There was a lot of confusion when we were in this port. We normally don’t take any shore excursions, because Michael seems to know where to go everywhere (more on that later).
We went back to the ship and were very disappointed. Michael was livid and left an angry comment card for the staff. To their credit they responded promptly and offered us lunch, which we declined, but asked them to comp us dinner at the Pinnacle Grill which they gladly did and sent a bottle of wine, as well as refund our tickets (of course).It was nice of the to do, and they did try to smooth it over, in my mind it was little solace as I still didn’t get to see the Holocaust Museum, so it was an empty victory!
The next day we went to Haifa, Israel. This time as soon as we got our stickers for the group we ignored any and all instructions for disembarking and went straight to our bus. We were off to Ceasaria and were going to see the Bahai World Center. Evidently Haifa is home to the Bahai religion, a religion up until now I never even heard of, the center had quite the real estate space, perched atop a mountain overlooking the sea and a lot of the city. The meticulously manicured lawns and the striking green grass and colors against the bland grey background of the sea made one feel at peace from this space. We were there prior to the actual center opening up, we were allowed partial access to the grounds. We were only there for about a half hour as the tour guide explained a little about the Bahai religion.
Our true destination for the day was Ceasaria, which was ruled by King Herod. Ceasaria was the FIRST ever man made commercial seaport–who would have thought right here in Israel. The renderings of what the original seaport looked like were spectacular. Evidently all the commerce that went thru Ceasaria made King Herrod a very rich man, one of the richest in the ancient world. The site sits right on the Mediterranean Sea and is not particularly preserved well. They let the tourists walk all over the place; coupled with the fact that it’s right on the water, it doesn’t bode well for the preservation of the site–very sad indeed. It was HOT–it’s friggin Israel in the summertime, what else was I expecting, but then again it was HOT everyday on every island we seemingly were on.
The next day was a sea day and then to Rhodes, home of one of the ancient wonders of the world The Colossus of Rhodes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_of_Rhodes)–which has long since been destroyed by earthquakes and marauders. It must have been quite the sight. It’s amazing what those people built all those years ago still stands for the most part, unfortunately all that is left now from the original statue are the pillars it stood on. Rhodes is a walled city to prevent invasion from forces from the water. Most of the inside of the city is retail–what else right? We walked around the city most of the day, went into a castle which ancient ceramic mosaics which were decorating the floor. Truly spectacular works of arts, if I were the renaissance man I think I am, I would be in big trouble as I have no artistic talents…boo hoo sad clown….
The next day we were off to Kusadasi, where we would see the ruins of Ephesus, significant because a lot of the city has been excavated and remains relatively intact. The temple of Artemis and Diana was found here, it was moved to the British Museum (where else right)? You actually see how the people lived, we saw the actual houses excavated, where the rich people lived, where the poor people lived, the public bathrooms(evidently the wealthy people would pay slaves to sit on the granite public bathrooms ‘seat’ so that it was warm when they sat down), the library, pretty much the whole ‘shabang.’ It was amazing, but what was more amazing was how well it was preserved/put back together. Obviously it wasn’t to be made whole but was pretty together, most of the pieces were there, what wasn’t there would eventually be put together.
The next day we were off to Mykonos. Again it was HOT as usual, it was here that Michael had his diva moment and had a meltdown. All the stress of putting the trip together and keeping us all in line and moving in the same direction he just freaked out on us and finally just left us. As we walked through town we lost him and then we scattered our own way. Kevin and Nancy went back to the ship, I rented a scooter and Bill and Anthony rented a car. I was ALL OVER that island. I went to several beaches and just explored the island the water was SO BLUE, almost crystal clear. Again, I couldn’t believe that I was actually there! There was a big ‘gay convention’ on the island–LOL. Seriously, evidently every August about this time there are about 40,000 gays and lesbians that fock to the island for a music festival. SO many beautiful women, but they were with other women! Who am I kidding I wouldn’t do anything anyway right? 😉
As we left Mykonos that evening and watched the shore slowly disappear in the distance, it was dawning on me that the trip would soon be over. The next day was a day at sea as we cruised through the Dardanelles Strait. I believe one side was Asia and the other side was Turkey, it is a major trade route as we saw many cargo ships going through. I was up at the pool for a little while but, again it was so hot–I wasn’t there for too long. When leaving the deck the pool that day I went through the Lido deck, past the buffet. There SHE was again, my white whale, or should I say blonde whale. I stared at her for a second and she said ‘hi,’ so I went over. I got there and started to laugh, as we talked about what happened on board a few days earlier. Stacey was with her Mom and sister on the cruise. She remarked that she thought I was gay perhaps (I did explain that I travel with ‘the gays,’ but am not one of them), and remarked how obvious she was being. I explained to her being the modern Renaissance man I am in the new millennium I wait for the lady to make the first move. She then remarked ‘I DID, you didn’t do anything.’ LOL. Anyway we hung out the rest of that day, Michael thought I was in the suite the entire time. He was a little annoyed I wasn’t on deck at the pool. What are the chances that someone I meet in the Mediterranean would live only about a half hour away from me. Well, she doesm we’ve seen each other a few times–the story did have a happy ending! (no pun intended) 😉
The next day we would dock in Istanbul, and then would disembark the following day. Istanbul is an interesting city, half of it is in Asia and the other half is in Europe, truly beautiful. Turkey isn’t on the Euro, and had a good exchange but I really didn’t see any deals. As with all of our tour it ended in the Turkish Rug shop! Turks are very proud of their rugs and their is an entire economy built around the production of said rugs. We went on a city tour, we went to one of the most famous Mosques in the wold-The Blue Mosque, truly a wonder. What sets this Mosque apart from many others is that it has 6 minourettes around it as opposed to 4 that are at most Mosques. The inside was spectacular and beautiful. It’s hard to believe this was built 500 years ago and still is as beautiful now, perhaps more so as these building look better over time.
Alas, the end of the trip was near, tomorrow we would disembark and be back to Hoboken. I was very sad, it was truly a magical trip, I don’t want to be too corny but I never though I would ever see this stuff. I’ve read about it for many years through school and studying world history. I’ve traveled extensively through western Europe, but never quite made it to the Med. I definitely will be back, would love to go back to Rome and Venice again. Italy in general, I’ve been in the mountains cycling, but never down on the water!
Today I participated in my first Tough Mudder. For those of you who don’t know what a ‘Tough Mudder’ is, it’s a obstacle course race. I previously told you the story of how I got into my first obstacle course race so I won’t bore you again. But evidently the Tough Mudder was the original obstacle course race, it is supposedly designed by the British Special Forces, blah, blah, blah.
The race was at Raceway Park in Old Englishtown, NJ. Just as an aside, I have always heard this name since I was little and have never been down here. It’s a small racetrack, I remember the commercials when I was younger so the name always stuck in my head. I was never into race cars so never even dawned on me to come down here.
The race started out by having to clear a 6′ wall to get to the start line. OK, that was interesting, let’s see what else they had, the course was just like a steeplechase course or a cross country course, I ran a lot! They spread us all over for the first mile or so, then we had to clear sewer pipes the 3′ and 6′ ones, after that they ran us a little more and then cam inverted walls, which led us out into the woods in the mud.
After several mud pits and a traverse across a lake, more running in the woods. The obstacles got really backed up, there honestly wasn’t enough equipment set up for the amount of people going though to make the lines go quicker. So a lot of the obstacle we would get there and wait; it was a little frustrating as I would cool down prior to going on the obstacle.
Then run through the woods and then we reach a low crawl through water, which is yucky enough, but then there’s electrical wires hang over you give you little shocks if you went to slow. Nothing that will kill you mind you, but enough to feel it. Then we ran some more, up and over mounds, the area where we were running was one of those dirt tracks where they do the dirt bike races if you can imagine that. More low crawling,with a wire mesh above you, relatively easy, all you did was turn on your back and use the wire to pull you thru.
More running again, and then some obstacle walls. Think American Ninja Warrior, the ledge was a little bigger, but still tiny. As you went further across you actually had to make a 10′ jump from one ledge to the other, you really had to have good grip strength. I didn’t and went in the drink immediately.
More running and then we had a cliff jump into muddy water,not bad at all, it was a little chilly today so going in and out of the water you really got chilly. No problem, in and out and then more running. Up and over mounds, mind you these are the mounds you see the dirt bike racers go racing up and then do a flip or something, they weren’t huge hills to run up, but they were numerous so it did get challenging.
There were numerous rest stations and water stations throughout the course, good thing because all I had was some granola before leaving the house. I really do have to work on my nutrition for these races. I sometimes wonder if I can’t handle the nutrition for such a simple race what am I going to do when I do a triathlon!
Anyway, more running and larger mounds to go up and down over. Some of the mounds I would just slid down the back side as it didn’t even make sense to try and run down as it was too steep! It was about this time the mud in my sneakers started to build up; it was building up all along but I would just power thru but at this point it really was starting to hurt and didn’t need a blister right in the middle of my foot. I stopped took off my sock and sneakers and beat the mud out of them, and off I went again.
We ran more, this time there was a fire jump, so we would jump over the fire and land in a pool of mud. I did and I think I tweaked my left knee. It didn’t feel bad and I powered through and kept going, more running and then cam e the tire carry, you carry a couple of tires about 100 yards and back. Afterwards there were a series of wall, from a 4′ to 5′ to 6′ and then eventually 2 10′ walls. I got over all of them fine, the 6′ wall I took a boost as well as the 10′ walls. I cam e down awkwardly on my left foot off the first 10′ wall and really felt my knee tweaked, but I ran it off.
There were two more obstacles and then the finish. Everest, which is a warped wall you take a run at and at the top there are a bunch of people waiting to grab you to help you up–IF you needed the help. Obviously there were some people who just went up and over. I dream of doing that in the future! took my run and two guys grabbed my arms I had enough momentum to get my right leg up and then they pulled me up on top of the wall.
The next obstacle was the electro-shock this time you walked across trying to avoid the shocks, but it was unavoidable! I tried to cover my face and then go through but that shit HURT! It knocked me right down on my face and I tried to low crawl through fast enough to not get shocked again but that was impossible! After that I was home free, run around the corner and finish!
All in all it was definitely interesting but quite frankly I prefer the Civilian Military Combine and Spartan Races over this any day. I can say I did a Tough Mudder, but I doubt I’ll be back. It actually would be a great team building race, as it’s not timed and helping one another out if encouraged. Not different from Spartan or CMC, but I didn’t care for all the running. Spartan and CMC there’s running also, but it seems like the obstacles are closer together and feels like a better experience.
Who am I kidding, if the FRM wanted to go do a Tough Mudder I’d go, it’s fun to suffer with your friends! Let me go ice my knee now!
As I sit here pondering what the day will bring, I run the Tough Mudder in a few hours, I am trying to psych myself up! I know it won’t be a problem, it’ll be a lot of fun and there’ll be a lot of dirt! I think about how I got into these races and how far I have come in the last two years. The first race was just on a whim! LOL! Now I devour them so to speak. The season is getting late and time to start thinking about the new challenges for next year. Triathlons, more Spartans, travel to some Spartans, triathlons, learn to swim with some type of technique, Paris Marathon, will I survive it? Man on man so many thoughts!
Met a very nice lady for lunch yesterday, a total beast(runner, triathlete, she’s running the Staten Island half today), our lunch reminded me of when I met Jenn all those years back, we talked and talked and talked and everything was very comfortable and not contrived. Only difference only spent a few hours together, whereas with Jenn we spoke through the night! LOL! Well at least I made it to date #2 as I was told…
Ok, enough of my minutiae, time to motivate, look for the race report later, and one day I’ll get to writing about the second half of the cruise!